In the first year the duration of flowering amazed me. I immediately bought a few more varieties of different colors. The information on growing it was scarce at the time, and I just planted the bushes in the garden, adding some peat and semi-fire-fanged pine waste to the garden soil. The bushes have grown well over the summer, and in the winter I hid them carefully. But all shoots were still destroyed by frost.
Over the next summer the bushes have grown big and strong again, but they haven’t bloomed – old varieties of Hydrangea macrophylla do not bloom on the shoots of the current year. No matter how I hid the bushes, the result was always the same: they froze in severe winters or died of take-all in the mild ones almost to the base. And if they wintered, then they bloomed very poorly, because the flower bud is laid on top of the shoot, which is just the most difficult to maintain.
A potted plant
In the autumn I planted hydrangeas in pots of an appropriate size in a mixture of equal parts of garden soil, semi-fire-fanged pine waste and peat (it is important for it to be loose and to have an acid reaction) and put them in the cellar. Hydrangeas wintered very well and kept all the shoots. Now I plant all varieties in pots, even those that bloom on shoots of the current year. I just do not want to risk such beauty!
Every autumn the hydrangeas are kept outside until the small frost. When the leaves have dried up and faded after the frost, I bind the shoots and put the pots in a cellar for the winter in the dark at a temperature of 0 … + 5 ° C. When the soil in the pots becomes dry, I water it or put snow. For winter I leave the heavy pots (over 10 liters) on a cold terrace, where the temperature fluctuations are greater. Sometimes, but not for a long time, the temperature decreases to -5 ° C and in thaw it increases to + 10 ° C. In such conditions the shoots and the root system are not damaged.
In March I pull out the pots of hydrangeas from the cellar, water them with slightly warm water adding “Fertika Lux”, and relocate them if necessary. I make sure to add a long-acting granular fertilizer for hydrangeas. I mulch it with a thick layer of pine waste. It protects the soil from crusting on the surface and helps to preserve moisture. When the needles decay, they acidify the soil.
The hydrangea grows for up to 5 years in the same pot – I relocate it not because it ceases to bloom or develops poorly, but out of pity. When I see a huge bush, I want it to have a suitable pot. Plants start to grow quickly. In late April I put hydrangeas outside making sure to cover them with a spanbond from spring frosts.
Hydrangeas do not like direct sunlight. They wither in the sun even if well-watered, and the flowers fade and become covered with spots. The cultivation of hydrangeas in pots has yet another advantage – mobility. In spring, it is better to keep them at the east or south-east side of the buildings, so that they are covered from the scorching southern and western sun. And when their buds color, it is a good idea to put them under a shed of a terrace or a pavilion for the sun to shine on the flowers only early in the morning. Then hydrangeas will delight you with their bright blooms for more than two months.
Moisture and watering
It is better to prevent the rain from falling on the bushes – huge flower caps will become very heavy, bend and the bush will lose its shape. But you should water the plants with the soft rain water, since the hard tap water displaces the soil pH in the “uncomfortable” alkaline direction. From spring to autumn I make sure that the soil in pots does not dry up, and on hot days I water the plants daily and abundantly. But even if hydrangea fades a little, it restores quickly after good watering, although try to avoid this. I never pour out the water from the trays since the plants use it for 2-3 hours.
I let hydrangeas bloom until the end – eventually the flowers change color, some become pinky-green, which is also very attractive. After flowering I cut all the florets to the first pair of strong buds. This is perhaps the most difficult procedure, as there might be up to 90 cups on a large bush. I do the main trimming in early spring without delay – sap flow starts quickly in hydrangeas, and the cuts are “crying” for a long time. I remove the weak shoots, and on the bushes of over 5 years old I remove the older branches too. I thin out a bit the bush varieties that form the shoots fast. I do not touch the ends of the shoots or clip them again over the next couple of strong buds. After such trimming the bushes bloom very lavishly. But you might not touch them for the first 5-6 years at all.
In July I chop the green cuttings with two pairs of leaves. I make the lower oblique cut and the straight top one. I remove the lower leaves completely, and on the upper leaves I cut a half of the leaf blade. The cuttings root very well. They strike roots easily in any acidic substrate for pot plants, in peat pellets, or just in the water. The plants planted in July grow rapidly, and many of them bloom the next year already.
As you can see, growing Hydrangea macrophylla in pots is not that difficult. You may have to listen to the nagging of your husband during the descent and ascent of hydrangeas from the cellar, but it is a trifle. For the sake of a long-term beauty that these plants will give you, you can put up with it. Embellish your life with hydrangea easily and abundantly!